Carleton offers online seminars on solitude and nature

By Ainslie Coghill

The vision behind the Mental Health and Well-Being Research and Training Hub (MeWeRTH), housed within Carleton University’s Department of Psychology, is to connect researchers, students and knowledge users to improve mental health and well-being.

In keeping with the vision to expand its reach beyond Carleton’s campus, the hub is offering two six-week seminars online this spring for adults of all ages, with no experience or prerequisites needed.

These freshly established continuing education seminars, organized in partnership with Carleton’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, will be held online from late May to late June. Registration for both courses remains open and will be limited to 25 participants per course.

“It is imperative that we break down barriers to education in order to have the greatest impact, and that is what I am hoping to achieve with these courses,” says Dr. Joanna Pozzulo, director of MeWeRTH and chair of Carleton’s Department of Psychology.

“Regardless of prior training, background or where you are physically located, these courses are for anyone and everyone interested in the science of well-being in real time,” she says.

Pozzulo notes how the COVID-19 pandemic has raised everyone’s level of consciousness around both mental and physical health.

“Everyone wants to know what they can do to improve their well-being,” she says. “It occurred to me that we have the knowledge to help answer that question. We also have the online teaching expertise to deliver that knowledge.”

One of the MeWeRTH courses explores the psychology of solitude; the other focuses on the benefits of nature.

In “Me Myself and I: Exploring the Psychology of Solitude,” Dr. Laura Ooi will lead participants through a wide range of perspectives and contexts to critically evaluate the complex meaning and implications of spending time alone.

“Because of the detrimental effects that isolation can have on our physical and mental health, aloneness has understandably received a bad reputation as something we should try to avoid at all costs,” says Ooi.

“Yet many of us often crave some ‘me time’ and rely on those experiences to recharge and relax,” she says. “Complicating matters further, finding the right balance of social and alone time is unique for each individual.”

Ooi hopes students walk away from the course with new perspectives on solitude, an awareness of factors that can affect our solitary experiences and some personal growth towards understanding our social and solitary needs in order to optimize the potential benefits of spending time alone.

Through “The Benefits of Nature on our Well-Being,” instructor Jessica E. Desrochers will explore the physical, emotional and community benefits of nature and how our engagement with nature may help promote environmentalism.

“Many people have lost their appreciation for the nature around them,” says Desrochers.

By shedding light on nature-focused research and ways nature may help with physical and mental well-being, Desrochers says students will gain a heightened awareness of their surrounding nature and its importance in our daily lives.

“I believe that through education we can improve the lives of those in our communities,” says Pozzulo.

For more information about MeWeRTH spring seminars, including dates, cost and instructions on how to register, visit carleton.ca/fass/mewerth-2021-spring-seminars or contact mewerth@carleton.ca.

Ainslie Coghill is the digital content and media specialist for Carleton’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

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